Pow-Wow by Stephen Mallinder

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The debut solo album by Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire received an overdue reissue on the Ice Machine label a few weeks ago; my CD turned up yesterday. Pow-Wow was one of the last albums released by Fetish Records in 1982, and it’s always been one I preferred to the solo recordings by Mallinder’s much more prolific colleague, Richard H. Kirk. Away from Cabaret Voltaire, Kirk and Mallinder’s music is mostly instrumental but the latter had a very different sound, dubbier and much more rhythmic than Kirk’s abrasive distortions. The longer pieces on Pow-Wow work variations on the energetic industrial funk developed by the Cabs and 23 Skidoo, benefiting a great deal from Mallinder’s dominant bass and insistent rhythms for which he was aided by Cabaret Voltaire’s regular percussionist, Alan Fish. Last Few Days, the most mysterious of Britain’s early Industrial groups, receive a credit for “chance element”. Mallinder sings on a couple of the tracks (if his whispered growl can be described as singing) while taped voices fill out the spaces elsewhere: a ménage à trois on Three Piece Swing, a voice from an assassination drama (Executive Action?) identifying the speaker as “Lee Harvey Oswald”, and so on. A handful of shorter pieces that run for less than two minutes are little more than looped sketches, but the unidentifiable analogue sources still sound unusual and original today, unlike synth-heavy albums from the same period.

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Mallinder’s other solo recordings from this time were just as good: a 12-inch single, Temperature Drop/Cool Down, and Del Sol, his uptempo contribution to the Fetish compilation/memorial album, The Last Testament. Cabs-affiliated groups like Hula and Chakk aimed for a similar blend of industrial menace and danceable grooves but the results were seldom as successful. Mallinder’s greater experience shows on these recordings, the best of which are the equal of anything that Cabaret Voltaire was doing at the time.

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A Fetish ad from the Neville Brody-designed event booklet for The Final Academy, 1982.

The sleeve design by Neville Brody is another plus, vying with his cover art for Thirst by Clock DVA for being the most cryptic design among the many covers he produced for Fetish Records. The designer revealed his rationale in The Graphic Language of Neville Brody (1988):

This sleeve was about human ritual and human slaughter. In the media world of newscasters and advertisers everybody becomes a viewer; conditioned to regard other people’s sufferings as no more than a form of entertainment. The bullring is a metaphor for this.

A good example, then, of a cover that means more to the designer than to the record owner.

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All design by Neville Brody.

The new edition of Pow-Wow improves on the original and the scarce reissues by bundling the album with Del Sol, both tracks from the 12-inch single and an edit of Cool Down from a Japanese release. It also includes one of the shorter tracks which for some reason was missing from previous reissues (this and the long version of Cool Down are from vinyl sources). I’ve had all of this material for many years so didn’t really need the CD, but my records are a little worn through over-use, and besides which, these are cult works.

Previously on { feuilleton }
TV Wipeout revisited
Doublevision Presents Cabaret Voltaire
Just the ticket: Cabaret Voltaire
European Rendezvous by CTI
TV Wipeout
Seven Songs by 23 Skidoo
Elemental 7 by CTI
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire
Neville Brody and Fetish Records

23 Skidoo

1: A slang phrase

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Postcard via.

skidoo, v. N. Amer. slang. (ski’du:) Also skiddoo. [Orig. uncertain, perh. f. skedaddle v.]

2. In catch-phrases. a. Used as an exclamation of disrespect (for a person). Esp. in nonsense association with twenty-three. (temporary.)

1906 J. F. Kelly Man with Grip (ed. 2) 99 As for Belmont and Ryan and the rest of that bunch, Skidoo for that crowd when we pass. Ibid. 118 ‘I can see a reason for ‘skidoo’,’ said one, ‘and for ‘23’ also. Skidoo from skids and ‘23’ from 23rd Street that has ferries and depots for 80 per cent. of the railroads leaving New York.’ 1911 Maclean’s Mag. Oct. 348/1 Surrounded by this conglomerate procession as I went on my way, the urchins would yell ‘Skidoo,’ ‘23 for you!’

b. spec. as twenty-three skidoo: formerly, an exclamation of uncertain meaning; later used imp., go away, ‘scram’.

1926 C. T. Ryan in Amer. Speech II. 92/1, I really do not recall which appeared first in my vocabulary, the use of ‘some’ for emphasis or that effective but horrible ‘23-Skiddoo’—perhaps they were simultaneous. 1929 Amer. Speech IV. 430 Among the terms which the daily press credits Mr. Dorgan with inventing are:…twenty-three skiddoo (go away). 1957 W. Faulkner Town iii. 56 Almost any time now Father would walk in rubbing his hands and saying ‘oh you kid’ or ‘twenty-three skidoo’. 1978 D. Bagley Flyaway xi. 80 This elderly, profane woman…used an antique American slang… I expected her to come out with ‘twenty-three, skidoo’.

From the Oxford English Dictionary

2: An esoteric poem by Aleister Crowley

23

SKIDOO

What man is at ease in his Inn?
Get out.
Wide is the world and cold.
Get out.
Thou hast become an in-itiate.
Get out.
But thou canst not get out by the way thou camest in. The Way out is THE WAY.
Get out.
For OUT is Love and Wisdom and Power.
Get OUT.
If thou hast T already, first get UT.
Then get O.
And so at last get OUT.

From The Book of Lies (1912/13)

3: A film by Julian Biggs

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23 Skidoo (1964).

If you erase the people of downtown America, the effect is bizarre, not to say disturbing. That is what this film does. It shows the familiar urban scene without a soul in sight: streets empty, buildings empty, yet everywhere there is evidence of recent life and activity. At the end of the film we learn what has happened.

4: 23 Skidoo Eristic Elite by William Burroughs

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International Times, issue 18, Aug 31–Sept 13, 1967.

From Burroughs proceed to Illuminatus! (1975) by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, and many subsequent derivations.

Continue reading “23 Skidoo”

Weekend links 230

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Cover art by Arik Roper.

Peter Bebergal’s Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll was published this week. Articles about rock music’s occult preoccupations have been a recurrent feature of music magazines, especially around Halloween, but Bebergal’s book is the first attempt at a wide-ranging, full-length study. Despite the subtitle, the scope goes beyond the familiar—David Bowie’s Golden Dawn references, Jimmy Page’s Aleister Crowley obsession—to take in the pagan nature of the blues, pre-Beatles rock’n’roll, and the byways of electronic music. My old employers, Hawkwind, provide a title (Space Ritual) for one section, and I was pleased to see the Krautrock scene receiving some attention: years ago you couldn’t have counted on this from an American music study. As Bebergal notes, Can’s Aumgn on Tago Mago (1971) isn’t the hippy Aum/Om but originates in a mantra defined in Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice.

• “We don’t just have skeletons in our cupboard, we have an ossuary.” Another week, another Alan Moore interview, but Tim Martin‘s piece is as much a portrait of the man as a conversation about the usual subjects: art, science, magic, etc.

• “Europe’s history of penis worship was cast aside when the Catholic Church realized Jesus’s foreskin was too potent to control.” Stassa Edwards on venerated members.

Gays and horror actually have  somewhat of a lost history. FW Murnau, the director of Nosferatu, was openly gay. Frankenstein’s real creator, James Whale, was also out. Given the talent involved, and the illicit nature of the genre, amateur and professional critics have been divining queer themes from horror films for decades.

Patrick Rosenquist on Gory, Gay & Loving It: Why Homosexuals Heart Horror

• “I thought that fine art was fairly dishonest as an industry. It pretends to be about culture but it’s really about money.” Andy Butler interviews designer Neville Brody.

• Snapping, Humming, Buzzing, Banging: Richard B. Woodward on the creative partnership between David Lynch and sound-design genius Alan Splet.

• Also published this week: Discovering Scarfolk, Richard Littler’s guide to the occult-obsessed, rabies-infested English town.

• More rock music: When Art Rocked: San Francisco Music Posters, 1966–1971 by Ben Marks.

• The trailer for 808, a documentary about Roland’s celebrated drum machine.

• At The Millions: Devin Kelly on the collaborative art of words and images.

• More Crowley: Strange Flowers goes looking for Aleister Crowley’s Berlin.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 130 by Gábor Lázár.

• Yello’s Boris Blank on his 10 favourite electronic records.

Richard Hirst‘s Top 5 Robert Aickman Stories.

I Put A Spell On You (1968) by Arthur Brown | I Put A Spell On You (1992) by Diamanda Galás | I Put A Spell On You (2004) by Queen Latifah

Weekend links 213

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No Tears for the Creatures of the Night (2005) by Will Munro.

• Steve Barker’s On The Wire show on BBC Radio Lancashire is one of the longest-running music shows on British radio but it’s not broadcast in London so you seldom hear it mentioned at all. (It’s also the only radio show I’ve appeared on, oddly enough.) Some of Barker’s shows, which predominantly feature dub and reggae artists, can now be heard at Mixcloud.

• “As protagonist after protagonist is undone by temptation and lust, one can’t help but divine a sinister double entendre in the book’s title – something nocturnal and obscene.” James Lovegrove on the reissue of Robert Aickman’s 1964 collection of “strange stories”, Dark Entries.

Coil vs. Kenny Loggins sounds like no contest, and so it proved in 1988 at the Mike Tyson/Michael Spinks fight. There’s another surprising connection between Tyson and Industrial culture with the poster that Neville Brody designed for the boxer’s Tokyo bout.

Ventriloquism: Unheimlich manoeuvres: Sarah Angliss (who performs as Spacedog) on the history of ventriloquist dummies. With a bonus appearance from the great Ray Alan and Lord Charles. Related: the Vent Haven Museum.

• I’ve been wanting to read Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu for years but always hesitate over which translation to choose. As Leland de la Durantaye shows, the arguments about translating Proust into English are still unresolved.

Music For A Good Home 3: a collection of 31 rare or unique tracks by a variety of artists including Belbury Poly, Pye Corner Audio, and Grumbling Fur. All proceeds go to Shelter.

David Cronenberg – The Exhibition is running throughout the summer at the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam showing props and other materials from the director’s films.

• “’I’m in pictures,’ John Wayne explained when Nabokov cordially inquired about his line of work.” Blake Bailey on Vladimir Nabokov’s unpublished Lolita screenplay notes.

• Original artwork for the Linweave Tarot (1967) at Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique. As noted before, the full set of cards is probably the grooviest ever created.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 118 by Ensemble Economique, and a Wyrd Daze Solstice mix from The Ephemeral Man.

• At One With Chaos & Abandonment: The Irrepressibles’ Jamie McDermott talks to Joseph Burnett about his music.

From the Zodiacal Light, a new track from Earth with vocals by Rabia Shaheen Qazi.

• The Ultimate Chinatown Filming Location Map of Los Angeles.

Tuxedomoon at Pinterest.

Dark Companion (1980) by Tuxedomoon | Dark River (1990) by Coil | Dark Turn Of Mind (2011) by Gillian Welch

Weekend links 186

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One Hundred Lavish Months of Bushwhack (2004) by Wangechi Mutu.

I wouldn’t be so bold as to call Benjamin Noys’ contribution to the recent The Weird conference at the University of London a highlight, but it was a surprise to find Lord Horror in general and the Reverbstorm book in particular being discussed alongside so many noteworthy offerings. Noys’ piece, Full Spectrum Offence: Savoy’s Neo-Weird, is now available to read online, a very perceptive examination of the tensions between the Old Weird and the New.

• Le Transperceneige is a multi-volume bande dessinée of post-apocalypse science fiction by Jacques Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette. Snowpiercer is a film adaptation by Korean director Bong Joon-ho featuring John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. Anne Billson calls the director’s cut an “eccentric masterpiece” so it’s dismaying to learn that the film is in danger of being hacked about by the usual rabble of unsympathetic Hollywood distributors.

• This month marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Public Domain Review posted some of the paintings mentioned in Swann’s Way (or The Way by Swann’s as the latest translation so inelegantly has it).

How the Paris World’s Fair brought Art Nouveau to the Masses in 1900: a huge picture post about my favourite exposition.

• Mix of the week: “Sport of Kings” Mix by Ricardo Donoso. Related: Paul Purgas on five favourite records.

Ernst Reichl: the man who designed Ulysses. Related: Hear all of Finnegans Wake read aloud over 35 hours.

• “Why does Alain de Botton want us to kill our young?” A splendid rant by Sam Kriss.

• Love’s Secret Ascension: Peter Bebergal on Coil, Coltrane & the 70th birthday of LSD.

• Malicious Damage: Ilsa Colsell on the secret art of Joe Orton & Kenneth Halliwell.

• Just Say No to the Bad Sex Award, or the BS Award as Tom Pollock calls it.

• Lauren O’Neal’s ongoing PJ Harvey Tuesdays: One, Two, Three and Four.

Neville Brody on the changing face of graphic design.

A Brief History of the London Necropolis Railway.

Des Hommes et des Chatons: a Tumblr.

• At Pinterest: Androgyny

• Virgin Prunes: Pagan Lovesong (vibeakimbo) (1982) | Caucasian Walk (1982) | Walls Of Jericho (live at The Haçienda, Manchester, 1983; I’m in that audience somewhere)